Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110727

Financial Crisis
»At the End of Europe: Seeking a Path Out of the Crisis in Portugal
»Europeans Urge US to Reach a Deal
»Italy: STMicroelectronics Declines as CEO Sees ‘Glitches’ In Sales to Nokia
»Revolts: Tremonti: Financial Speculation Amongst Causes
»Al-Qaeda is Planning Attacks, Also in Europe
»Arrested Uzbek Who Threatened to Kill Obama
»Credit Suisse “Worse Off” Than UBS in the US
Europe and the EU
»After Norway: EU Declares Fight Against Right-Wing Extremism
»Belgian Pol Shocked to Get Norway Suspect’s Email
»Football: Platini to Discuss Greek Corruption in Athens
»German Liberals Collapse to 3 Percent
»‘How Can a Society Justly Punish Someone Like Breivik?’
»Italy: Spielberg Says ‘Sorry’ After Getting Fined While on Luxury Vacation in Sardinia
»Netherlands: House Rejects Wilders-Bashing After Norwegian Tragedy
»Netherlands: Wilders: PvdA Seeks Political Gain From Norwegian Massacre
»New Far-Right — The Boy Next Door
»Norway and After: Populism — Handle With Care
»Norway’s Terrorism in Context
»Norway Shockwaves Pinpoint Multiculturalism Debate
»Sweden Democrats Reject Norway Attacks Blame
»Switzerland: Prison Expands to Cope With Overcrowding
»Kosovo: Vice President of Ruling Party Indicted for War Crimes
»Kosovo: Border Tensions; No EU Approval of Special Forces
North Africa
»Algeria: Ramadan: Campaign Against Nighttime Swimming
»Egypt: The Chaos in Ruling Military Council Helping Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis
»Tunisia: Elections: Ennahdha on Track to Power
»Tunisia: Protest Against Al Jazeera Announced
Israel and the Palestinians
»Jenin Theatre Denounces Israeli Army Raid
»Social Uprising Continues, Union to Join the Crowd
»Stakelbeck Show From Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Summit
Middle East
»Caroline Glick: No Prizes for Erdogan
»Crisis in the Relationship Between Erdogan and Europe
»Lebanon: In Lebanon: Shiites Take Possession of a Chapel of the Virgin
»NATO Warns Turkey Against Buying Chinese, Russian Air Defense Systems
South Asia
»Indonesia: Remains of ‘Tortured Migrant Worker’ To Arrive in Jakarta
Far East
»Nuclear Power: IAEA: Due to Increase Despite Fukushima
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Pirates Face Jail Terms of Up to 10 Years
Latin America
»Audiencia to Investigate Genocide of Maya Women
»Irregular Immigrants May Marry Italian Citizens
»Italy: Journalists Against Ban on CIE Access
»Netherlands: Reprieve for Afghan Tajik Family
»Spain: Emigration Rises With Crisis
»Spain: Brussels Studies Labour Market Stop for Romanians
»Switzerland: Rightwing Puts Immigration on Election Agenda
»UK: Requiring Immigrants to Speak English ‘Breaches Human Rights, ‘ Claims Couple as They Launch Legal Bid to Overturn Ruling
Culture Wars
»Italy: Priests Blackmailed for Gay Affairs
»Malta: Valleta to Allow Divorce From October
»No Comment From EU on Italian Homophobia Vote

Financial Crisis

At the End of Europe: Seeking a Path Out of the Crisis in Portugal

After living beyond its means for decades, Portugal is now feeling the full brunt of the crisis. The government is responding with a brutal austerity package. But savings alone won’t do the trick — the country needs to find ways to expand industry and make itself more attractive for investment. The good news is that positive models already exist within its own borders. The air smells salty at Cabo da Roca, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Lisbon. It is the westernmost point of mainland Europe, and a lighthouse is perched on the cliffs, high above the roaring sea. The sign in front of it reads: “The End of Europe.” These words sound strangely prophetic at the moment.

On the way there, a two-lane bike path hugs the coastline for several kilometers between Cascais and Guincho. Special streetlights spaced only 50 meters apart illuminate the brownish-red special asphalt at night. But cyclists are rarely to be found along this route, even during the day, because the wind is simply too strong.

The luxury bike path is a reminder of better times, of the years when the Portuguese were still able to draw on unlimited resources. They built the Colombo in Lisbon, Europe’s largest shopping center at the time. They also built state-of-the-art football stadiums and many new roads, including 2,700 kilometers of motorways in two decades, many with six lanes — which are often completely empty. Many things in Portugal are oversized, and the dramatic consequences of this exorbitant lifestyle are now manifesting themselves. The country had to resort to the euro zone’s bailout fund in April, but it only provided Portugal with a brief respite from its financial woes.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europeans Urge US to Reach a Deal

US lawmakers and President Obama have until Aug. 2 to find a compromise on raising the federal debt ceiling before the government goes into default. But talks have broken down between the White House and Congress, and Republican and Democratic proposals in Congress appear to be going nowhere. The IMF and some European leaders are calling on the US to get its act together. The daily schedule of a member of the US Congress has been easy to predict recently. In the morning, the legislators in Washington stand in front of the TV cameras and talk about, one after another, how the country is standing on the edge of the precipice. Then, in the evening they can go back and report that the country did make one small step forward.

Tuesday was no exception. Chaos and internal power struggles ruled, this time within the Republican party. The conservative leaders around John Boehner, the powerful Republican speaker of the House, had wanted to promote their own plan for raising the debt ceiling, but he was forced to postpone a vote on the measure late in the day. If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling by August 2 from its current level of $14.3 trillion, the United States will default on its debt.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: STMicroelectronics Declines as CEO Sees ‘Glitches’ In Sales to Nokia

Milan, 26 July (AKI/Bloomberg) — STMicroelectronics NV fell the most in two years in Paris trading after Chief Executive Officer Carlo Bozotti said there will be a “correction” in the company’s third-quarter sales due to difficulties at customer Nokia Oyj.

STMicro, Europe’s largest semiconductor maker, expects “some glitches at our major wireless customer,” Chief Executive Officer Carlo Bozotti said in a Bloomberg Television interview today. Nokia, the Finnish mobile-phone maker that’s ceding market share to Apple Inc., is STMicro’s top client.

The CEO said he expects a “significant reduction in the demand outlook from a major customer compared to previous expectations,” without being more specific.

The shares declined as much as 9.3 percent, their biggest drop since 2009, and traded at 5.94 euros, down 7.1 percent, at 9:34 a.m.

Nokia, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones, on July 21 reported its first quarterly loss since 2009 after handset sales slumped following an accord to shift to Microsoft Corp. software.

Exane BNP Paribas downgraded STMicro to “underperform” from “neutral” today. Analyst Jerome Ramel cited the “ugly” third-quarter guidance and the “collapse” in the gross margin for the cut.

“Certainly Nokia has had a major impact on the outlook,” said Saverio Papagno, an analyst at AZ Fund Management in Luxembourg.

ST-Ericsson, the semiconductor joint venture between Ericsson AB and STMicro, said July 20 that its second-quarter net loss widened to $221 million from a year earlier as sales fell. ST-Ericsson, whose clients include Nokia and Samsung Electronics Co., expects net sales “to be about flat sequentially,” in the third quarter.

ST-Ericsson last month announced cost cuts aimed at saving $120 million a year and pushed back the date at which it expects to become profitable. The cuts will “affect up to 500 employees worldwide,” the company said.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Revolts: Tremonti: Financial Speculation Amongst Causes

(ANSAmed) — ROMA — Financial speculation is not backing down: first it sparked off the crisis in the West, then the revolts in the poorer countries and now it is charging against beating down the levels recorded before the crisis itself. Straight from the mouth of the minister of the Economy, Giulio Tremonti, who participated in a debate on the recent revolts in north Africa named ‘Arab spring or Mediterranean winter’ set up by the ‘Congregazione figlio dell’Immacolata Concezione’.

The minister resorted to the bible, stating that “the waters are dividing and the people are moving after a long time”. Then an image from history: “when they announced to Louis XVI that the Bastille had fallen he kept on thinking that it was a revolt, not a revolution. And that may also be why they cut his head off”. The minister divided his speech in various points, first of all the “geopolitical dimension: it spans from the Atlantic towards Asia and arrives in areas that are strategic to the world. History is moving again”. Then he talked about the “breakdown of balances” and thrust out against Europe which now practices “a policy of impotence”, it is “missing non in action”. Furthermore “the fall of the common vision of Europe corresponds to localism and to egoism”. Then he moved on to speculation. Tremonti believes that behind the revolts there is a “mix of components. The sparking element is speculation on commodities, food and oil which determined a social unbalance”.

Tremonti pointed out how already in 2009 Italy asked the International Monetary Fund to carry out research on speculation, but the IMF replied that “speculation does not exist, it was only market phenomena”. But according to the minister “speculation is not limited to finance but breaks into the life of the people and plays a fundamental role in setting off poverty”. More in general, “finance is no longer at the service of the real economy but has become an end in itself.

Time ago the United States minted its own money, now it is finance that is minting money in its own turn”. On the effects that this situation can lead to, Tremonti pointed out how certain European governments are already controlled by “the extreme of the extreme right”. And in any event exporting democracy is not an easy task: “it is a very complicated business and cannot be exported like McDonald’s”. Tremonti then reasserted the idea of a small tax to allocate to poor countries: “a small part of VAT is forfeited by the government and directly allocated by the consumer to Africa or other poor countries around the world. This idea is still alive despite the egoism of those who say that “VAT is mine and I’ll use it like I want”. Lastly, a mention of the Italian situation: “we say that ‘life is dear’, in Africa it is a matter of ‘as long as we live”‘.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Al-Qaeda is Planning Attacks, Also in Europe

(AGI) Washington — Al Qaeda and affiliates are still a threat and are scheming attacks in many regions, including Europe.

This is an alert launched by the US Department of State, who advises keeping a “high alert level.” These attacks, the State Department says, “might include suicidal or homicidal actions, abductions, piracy and bombings.” The sensitive targets include locations “hosting high-profile sports events, residential areas, business locations, hotels, restaurants, clubs and also schools.” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Arrested Uzbek Who Threatened to Kill Obama

AGI) Washington — A young man from Uzbekistan has been indicted by a US jury for threatening to kill Barack Obama. He was caught because his study visa had expired.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Credit Suisse “Worse Off” Than UBS in the US

Once again a Swiss bank in the United States is implicated in tax fraud. Three years ago it was UBS in the hot seat; now Credit Suisse faces a criminal inquiry.

The political and legal climate has changed considerably since 2008 and lawyers and clients of Credit Suisse see the position of Switzerland’s second largest bank as more serious than that of its competitor UBS.

Before indicting four former bank employees, the US Department of Justice sent a letter to Credit Suisse earlier this month warning that it was the target of an inquiry.

The four new indictments bring to eight the number of Credit Suisse employees accused of having helped Americans to commit tax fraud.

The spokeswoman for Credit Suisse in the US declined an interview request from But in a communiqué Victoria Harmon emphasised the commitment of the Zurich bank “to a fully compliant cross-border business”.

“Subject to our Swiss legal obligations and throughout this process we will continue to cooperate with the US authorities in an effort to resolve these matters,” she wrote.

As lawyers for UBS and Credit Suisse clients, Scott Michel and Lawrence Horn are very close to the issue. They see the situation of Credit Suisse as worse than that of UBS.

“The very serious allegations against Credit Suisse relate to a wider range of conduct extending beyond a tax conspiracy into a broader range of criminal activity,” Michel of the Washington firm Caplin & Drysdale told

“These are not just allegations that a Swiss bank opened accounts that they knew would not be reported to the IRS [Internal Revenue Service], there are also allegations that employees of the bank lied to the Federal Reserve, engaged in destruction of records, helped people try and evade DOJ [Department of Justice] investigation and provided unlicensed banking services to customers,” the lawyer representing some 30 Credit Suisse clients said.


Michel, along with Lawrence Horn of the firm Sills, Cummis & Gross in Newark, interpret the measures taken in the past week by the US authorities as pointing to the imminent indictment of the bank itself.

“Credit Suisse is on the verge of being indicted, unless the bank negotiates with DOJ and gives names of its American depositors,” Michel said.

The letter sent to Credit Suisse is known in legal jargon as a target letter, and its meaning is clear, according to Horn. “It means that the Department of Justice has enough evidence to indict you”.

The DOJ refuses to comment on the case but the analysis of the lawyers involved is backed up by news agency reports citing “high level government sources” who indicate that the US is planning to charge Credit Suisse.

Is the DOJ bluffing? “No. The DOJ does not issue target letters lightly, they’re definitely not bluffing,” said Horn, a former federal prosecutor. Michel agrees: “The DOJ does not bluff; I’ve been practising as an attorney for 30 years and I would never ever think that they’re bluffing.”…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

After Norway: EU Declares Fight Against Right-Wing Extremism

The European Union has pledged to address far-right extremism following the deadly attacks in Norway motivated by hatred of Muslims. While a number of populist groups initially spoke out against such violence, two right-wing leaders have since defended part of the ideology behind the massacre.

Following the horrific attacks that left 76 dead in Norway last week, many European leaders have been asking questions about the dangers of right-wing radicalization in the region. In recent years European Union member countries have seen growing support for right-wing populist groups — but the attacks confessed to by Anders Behring Breivik took their anti-Islam, xenophobic ideology to an entirely new and deadly level.

In hopes of preventing similar events, this week both European Union interior ministers and the European law enforcement agency Europol pledged to review the dangers posed by far-right extremists within the 27 member states. The topic of radicalization has been tacked on to the agenda for the late September meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council, to which non-EU member Norway has now also been invited. Meanwhile, an EU anti-radicalization network already set in motion last year is set to take up its work earlier in the same month.

In a blog entry announcing the new measures on Monday, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström referred to Breivik’s 1,500-page online manifesto , saying that while it was clearly written by a disturbed individual, some of his sentiments were not uncommon to contemporary European political discourse.

“I have many times expressed my concern over xenophobic parties who build their unfortunately quite successful rhetoric on negative opinions on Islam and other so-called threats against society,” she wrote. “This creates a very negative environment, and sadly there are too few leaders today who stand up for diversity and for the importance of having open, democratic and tolerant societies where everybody is welcome.”

Atmosphere of Intolerance

On Wednesday, the leader of Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), Sigmar Gabriel, said that precisely this atmosphere of intolerance had abetted the attacks in Oslo and on the island of Utøya.

“In a society where anti-Islam and the discrimination of others has become acceptable again, and in which the middle class applauds the likes of (controversial author) Thilo Sarrazin , there will naturally be lunatics on the fringes of society who feel legitimized in taking stronger action,” Gabriel told the German news agency DPA.

The result of the mainstream nationalist sentiment has been a retreat from the idea of a united Europe, Gabriel alleged. “We need exactly the opposite right now,” he added.

Meanwhile, conservative German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich warned against the dangers of an increasingly violent far-right community in his country. In an interview with daily Rheinische Post on Wednesday, Friedrich said that while the number of members in right-wing extremist groups was declining, the concentration of those willing to commit violent acts for their beliefs had swelled.

A group he referred to as “nationalistic anarchists,” who have modeled themselves after leftist anarchists, are of particular concern, the interior minister said. An attack such as those carried out by Breivik last week in Norway could also not be ruled out in Germany, he told the paper, adding that this was also true for left-wing and Islamist extremists.

“Among the right-wing extremists, we are aware of a few potential threats,” Friedrich said. “But the problem isn’t those we have in our sights, but rather those who are radicalizing underground.”…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Belgian Pol Shocked to Get Norway Suspect’s Email

A right-wing Belgian politician says he was shocked to learn he had been sent an email by the suspect behind the Norway shooting massacre and bombing. The email, with Anders Behring Breivik’s 1,500-page manifesto attached, was sent to 1,002 email addresses Friday, about 90 minutes before a blast in Oslo killed at least eight people. Sixty-eight were killed in the shooting. Tanguy Veys, a member of parliament belonging to the anti-immigration Belgian Vlaams Belang party, was among those who received the email. He said Wednesday he had never met or even heard of Breivik, adding that he “didn’t want to be connected with a terrorist act.” Another email address on the list led to a Facebook site ostensibly for an Italian with a fondness for Nazi emblems and firearms.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Football: Platini to Discuss Greek Corruption in Athens

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JULY 26 — UEFA President Michel Platini will visit Greece on July 26 for high-level meetings to discuss the country’s match-fixing scandal, daily Kathimerini reports quoting Greek sports authorities. Greece’s sports ministry said that Platini and his UEFA delegation will meet with Prime Minister George Papandreou. More than 60 football club officials, players, businessmen and others are under investigation in a corruption probe, with 10 people detained in custody on charges of money laundering and participation in a criminal organization.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

German Liberals Collapse to 3 Percent

(AGI) Berlin — Germany’s liberal party, the Free Democrats, are continuing on their inexorable decline. The latest Forsa poll for the weekly magazine Stern puts them a further point down at a new record low of 3%. Even after the change of leadership in May, with finance minister Philipp Roesler, replacing foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, as party president, the FDP has failed to regain the trust of voters.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

‘How Can a Society Justly Punish Someone Like Breivik?’

How can Norway, whose laws only provide for a maximum sentence of 21 years for terrorism offences, adequately punish Anders Behring Breivik for his terrible deeds? One German commentator suggests that denying him any more publicity would be the harshest penalty. In the days following the Utøya massacre, Norwegians have insisted that the bloodbath, which left at least 76 people dead, will not change their famously open and democratic society.

“Evil can kill a person but never conquer a people,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg at a rally to remember the victims on Monday evening. In at times emotional speeches, the prime minister, who has been praised for his handling of the crisis, has called on Norwegians to unite around their democratic values. But one of Norway’s biggest challenges will be that of reconciling its liberal values with the desire to see Anders Behring Breivik, who has confessed to the attacks, adequately punished. Breivik is facing terrorism charges, which he denies. But even if convicted of terrorism, he would only face a maximum prison sentence of 21 years under Norwegian law.

Prosecutors are now considering charging Breivik with crimes against humanity, for which the maximum penalty is 30 years. Under Norwegian law, the basic criteria for the crime is “to kill a group of civilians systematically,” according to an Oslo University law professor quoted by the Associated Press.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Spielberg Says ‘Sorry’ After Getting Fined While on Luxury Vacation in Sardinia

Rome, 26 July (AKI) — Hollywood billionaire director Steven Spielberg excused himself and paid a fine after he was cited for violating boating rules while on vacation on the Italian island of Sardinia.

The director of “Jaws” and “ET” earlier this month was fined 151 euros by the Italian coastguard after angry vacationers complained that his motor skiff was put swimmers in danger by coming too close to the beach, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Spielberg who was on holiday with fiends that included goddaughter Gwyneth Paltrow was dropped off by his crew near Porto Liscia when he was approached by authorities who didn’t recognize him.

“I’m Spielberg. Excuse me. I didn’t know it was forbidden. You’re correct and it’s right that I should pay,” he said.

Coast guard Commander Vincenzo Petrella said the fine was, “For using his engine within 300 metres of the coast, instead of rowing.”

The Oscar winner was boating aboard his 200 million yacht Oceanco Seven Seas. More than 280 feet, the vessel reportedly has accommodations for for 12 guests and a crew of 26.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: House Rejects Wilders-Bashing After Norwegian Tragedy

AMSTERDAM, 27/07/11 — Many newspapers hold Geert Wilders indirectly responsible for the attacks in Norway. In the Lower House, however, all parties consider it inappropriate to link him to the massacre.

Anders Breivik, who shot dozens of young people dead at a summer camp for Norwegian socialists on Sunday, has distributed a 1,500-page manifesto in which he praises Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) as the only real conservative party in Europe. This has ignited a debate on the question of whether the Dutch politician played a role in the Norwegian tragedy.

Columnists, professors and politicians in a number of newspapers are analysing the role of Wilders. The general tenor is that Wilders is not responsible, though a ‘but’ then appears; he should more emphatically distance himself from the attacks, some commentators consider.

Wilders already said on Monday that Breivik is a “sick psychopath” and expressed condolences to the entire Norwegian population. yesterday he again emphatically condemned the attacks. WIlders also criticised the ‘guilty by association’ tenor of some commentators.

“The Party for Freedom has never ever called for violence and will never do so either. We believe in the power of the ballot box and the wisdom of the elector. Not in bombs and guns,” according to Wilders. He added that “neither I myself, nor the PVV are responsible for the work of a lone idiot who abuses the freedom-loving anti-Islamisation ideals in a violent manner.”

Wilders is “nauseated” by the references that Breivik makes to the PVV in his manifesto. This shows that the Norwegian is a “lunatic.” He “wants to work with Al Qaida, hankers after blowing up towns, dreams of knights who mutilate themselves in a surgical manner and to meet his hero Karadzic.”

Unlike many newspaper commentaries, the reactions of politicians are much more nuanced. Nobody in the Lower House considers Wilders is too blame for the massacre.

Centre-left D66 MP Boris van den Ham calls it an “idiotic reflex” to make a link between Wilders and the bloodbath. “It is precisely the people who are rightly critical of the generalisations of Wilders that should give a good example.”

Socialist Party (SP) leader Emile Roemer said: “It would be very unwise to point the finger at Wilders. If tomorrow a murderer appears who uses my words, am I then also responsible for this?”

PvdA leader Job Cohen was equally uninterested in the question of whether Wilders bears some responsibility. “For God’s sake, let us avoid that debate.”

Hans Moors, researcher into radicalism and the extreme right, considers that Wilders does have “a kind of responsibility,” according to the newspaper. “This man was not sick, not cognitively, and he is well educated. Wilders should substantiate what is wrong with the ideas of people like Breivik. Indicate where the boundary lies for him.”

Historian Jan Dirk Snel believes that Wilders “disseminates a false world picture” and is thereby “dangerous,” he told Nederlands Dagblad newspaper. NRC Handelsblad also considers that the PVV leader has a responsibility. “The ball is now in his court,” ran the leftwing newspaper’s headline.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Wilders: PvdA Seeks Political Gain From Norwegian Massacre

THE HAGUE, 28/07/11 — Leftwing politicians are trying to extract political gain from the attacks in Norway, says Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders. Even though he has emphatically condemned the attacks twice, Labour (PvdA) and the leftwing Greens (GroenLinks) are continuing to urge that he distance himself more explicitly from the perpetrator, Anders Breivik.

“Lefties like PvdA leader Job Cohen an GroenLinks MP Tofik Dibi are now trying to cash in politically on mass murder. That’s dirty. The PVV remains itself, in content and in tone!!” Wilders wrote yesterday on

The PVV leader was reacting to the criticism that Dibi and Cohen expressed of his reaction to the attacks. A twitter message in which Wilders distanced himself from the attacks was insufficient, they said. They also found a second statement insufficient.

“Wilders must channel the anger,” said GroenLinks MP Dibi. “He must give his views more often and clearly. Just one tweet or statement is insufficient, as Wilders’ words reach far beyond the boundaries of the Netherlands.”

Cohen, like Dibi and all other parties in the Lower House, rejects the link between the deeds of Breivik and the ideas of Wilders. “He has no responsibility whatever,” stressed the PvdA leader on Radio 1 Journaal.

But Wilders must become aware of what role his statements can play, added Cohen. “One must realise very well what their influence can be. I think it is very wise to moderate one’s words. That applies to all politicians.”

Dibi does not agree here. “I love free speech. Wilders must be able to say whatever he wants.” The GroenLinks MP does however want the PVV leader to “shoulder his responsibility by funnelling the anger” that European citizens like Breivik apparently feel.

Dibi wants to request a debate after the summer recess on xenophobia in general. Mark Rutte must then be present, he considers. Dibi finds that European leaders do too little to oppose the “xenophobic rhetoric” of people like Breivik.

In his statement that is according to Dibi and Cohen insufficient, Wilders said that “the fight against Islamisation has been abused in a violent way by a psychopath. This is a slap in the face for the worldwide anti-Islamic movement.” Wilders is “filled with disgust that the perpetrator refers to the PVV and me” in a manifesto.

The Christian democrats (CDA) do not want to use the Norwegian tragedy to carry on a debate on the tone of the political climate in the Netherlands. The conservatives (VVD) also have no interest in a debate.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

New Far-Right — The Boy Next Door

26 July 2011 Gazeta Wyborcza Warsaw

In the wake of the Oslo bomb attack and massacre on Utøya island, attention is focused on far-right extremist groups proliferating on the web. But their members have little in common with traditional neo-nazis and extremist conservative movements.

Tomasz Bielecki

Nordisk, an online forum for Nordic extremists, which Anders Breivik was once a member of, recently had some 22,000 members from all Nordic countries. Although of all Scandinavian extremists the Norwegians are least numerous (also in internet terms), Norwegian police warned in a February report of their ever more intense ties with their Swedish counterparts as well as with far-right movements in Russia (mainly St. Petersburg neo-Nazis).

The Nordic extremists have no common structure, but according to the Europol, international connections between extremist groups have been ever closer, with ties initiated on the internet developed further during music concerts of “white power” bands propagating the philosophy of white racial supremacy.

“What we are watching is 21st-century fundamentalism, rebelling against hateful modernity, defending an identity based on the Christian cross, Germanic blood ties, the cult of the Scandinavian god of war, Odin, and the heroic sagas of the Nibelungen”, says Ugo Maria Tassinari, an Italian expert on far-right extremism.

Far-right has less and less the face of a beefy tattooed skinhead

In Europe, the combination of racist xenophobia and religious themes is a Scandinavian specialty, that has already been export to Italy, among other places, where the Nordic movement has inspired the Militia Christi extremist movement.

According to recent estimates there were only some 2,000 far-right extremists in Norway. In pre-internet times, they’d have probably remained dispersed throughout the country without an easy way to meet and rev up their fanaticism during hard-to-organise rallies. These days, the Web allows even a “boy from a perfectly normal home” to live a seemingly normal life while at the same time participating in the workings of an ‘extremist international’ that is just a mouse-click away. To talk, share readings, exchange information on enemies of the nation, and fish for new supporters.

Also in Germany the modern-day extreme right has less and less the face of a beefy tattooed skinhead and more and more of a well-dressed nice guy from next door who shows his real self only when logged in to the web. The same phenomenon was at work during the last decade with Al-Qaeda and its supporters…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Norway and After: Populism — Handle With Care

26 July 2011 Trouw Amsterdam

Although Anders Breivik was solely responsible for the atrocities in Norway, his far-fetched ideas clearly owe much to a culture of populism. A Dutch historian argues that the events which took place on 22 July ought to be considered in the context of political trends in Europe

Jan Dirk Snel

In the aftermath of the horrific attacks perpetrated by Anders Breivik in Norway, there has been heated debate on the issue of his links to ideological circles. Following previous atrocities, like the murder of Theo van Gogh [the Dutch film maker assassinated in 2004 by an Islamic extremist], some commentators had no scruples about attributing blame to the wider Islamic community. By the same token, it is worth wondering to what extent the proponents of the new right — an ideology that clearly influenced Breivik — have been implicated by his actions?

Hardly anyone is willing to share or otherwise legitimate Breivik’s justification for the massacre on 22 July. He was solely responsible for his actions, and only those who share the bulk of his ideas and attempt to justify or explain the attacks from an ideological point of view can be said to support what he has done. This same observation also applied to the assassination of Theo van Gogh by Mohammed Bouyeri, who was largely isolated by his violent ideology. However, we should nonetheless bear in mind the context of this latest phenomenon.

Breivik’s justification of his atrocities is based on the notion that Europe is threatened by multiculturalism and Islam. His 1,500-page manifesto 2083—A European Declaration of Independence is full of theories that have been widely circulated in the milieu of the new right, which in the Netherlands, is represented by the PVV. Breivik quotes Geert Wilders [the leader of the populist PVV] who has claimed that Moroccans intend to colonise the Netherlands and subjugate the Dutch people. Other members of the PVV have also waxed lyrical about the dangers of “cultural Marxism.”

Those who deform reality should not be taken seriously

Theirs is a deformed vision of reality, which has nothing to do with modern social conditions. And it was on the basis of this vision of the world that Breivik drew his violent conclusions. He is certainly responsible. However, the fact that he has brought together so many fantastic ideas says a lot about the current mentality in Europe — and in particular in the Netherlands, where a political movement that circulates such ideas is associated with the minority government which it has agreed to support in parliament.

Breivik is solely responsible for his violent acts, but many others share his mendacious and fantastic vision of the world. And these people should now be taken to task. The circulation of lies and the creation of false monsters is not without consequences. Those who deform reality should not be taken seriously — as if theirs was just another voice in the debate on the future of society. They must be attacked with rigorous argument. They should be told to stop deceiving people. This is the approach that we must adopt with the Dutch populists who are propagating the ideology of the new right. Politics is not a game. The time has come for a moment of truth…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Norway’s Terrorism in Context

by Daniel Pipes

Beyond massacring innocent Norwegians, Behring Breivik damaged conservatism, the counterjihad, and (in particular) those authors he cited in his writings, including myself. A close reading of his manifesto suggests this may have been purposeful. Noting that his former membership in Norway’s conservative Progress Party would do it harm, he evinces satisfaction that this will forward his revolutionary goals:

I anticipate that the Norwegian media will persecute and undermine the Progress Party for my earlier involvement in the organisation. This is not a negative thing as an increasing amount of Norwegians will then have their “illusions of democratic change” crushed (if the Progress Party is annihilated by the multiculturalist media) and rather resorts to armed resistance.

In a similar spirit, he writes: “America as a polity is scr*wed, and thank the gods for that.”

By extension, Behring Breivik may well have wanted to harm those analysts of Islam cited in the manifesto. He calls me a “moderate,” which obviously is not meant as a compliment, and dismisses even the hardest-line critics of Islam as lacking in courage:

The reason why authors on the Eurabia related issues/Islamisation of Europe — Fjordman, Spencer, [Bat] Ye’or, Bostom etc. aren’t actively discussing deportation is because the method is considered too extreme (and thus would damage their reputational shields). . . . If these authors are to [sic] scared to propagate a conservative revolution and armed resistance then other authors will have to.

Behring Breivik hopes to undermine anyone he perceives as obstructing his dreamed-for revolution. Temporarily, at least, he has succeeded.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway Shockwaves Pinpoint Multiculturalism Debate

The shockwaves from the massacre in Norway have released a flood of questions. One of the first is about the links between Anders Behring Breivik and the extreme right in Europe.

The police say they had nothing on the killer, that he had no record, that he had done nothing to arouse suspicion.

But the international anti-fascist organisation, Searchlight, says there is evidence that Breivik had links with far right groups in England and Scandinavia.

“He was in contact with people. He did follow certain groups,” says Nick Lowles from Searchlight Magazine. “He was on a Swedish Nazi forum, he’s been in contact with EDL (the English Defence League) here and with the Defence League in Norway. To say ‘it’s almost impossible to know these people beforehand’. I just generally can’t believe that’s the case.”

The Oslo killer’s identity has embarrassed nationalist parties outside Norway, such as the Flemish Vlaams Belang. Tanguy Veys represents the group in the Belgian parliament. Like many others, he received Breivik’s manifesto by email.

“I had never had contact with him or with people like him or organizations, it was the first time that he mailed to me,” says the MP. “So I looked to it, his manifesto, and I saw what his intentions were but of course, too late. I’m a politician of Vlaams Belang, right-conservative, and we have also a strong point of view about Islam. But we have never spoken about violence, about taking rights in your own hands.”

The same message is put forward by Geert Wilders, the Dutch far right politician whose Freedom Party speaks out against Islam.

Recently acquitted of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims, Wilders did not want to reply to questions from euronews. But he is again at the centre of the debate in the Netherlands.

Bart-Jan Spruyt is a columnist for the Dutch current affairs magazine, Elsevier:

“Wilders has to explain why he has created this whole apocalyptic atmosphere, like: ‘it’s war, politics doesn’t mean anything because it has no solutions, it’s five minutes from Doomsday, we have to act now’ — this is a kind of war scenario between good and evil, and it’s what was in the head of that guy, this Mr Breivik. I think Wilders has to distance himself from this, from that image that he’s created. He has to say: politics is important,” Spruyt argues.

The multiculturalism debate has been a thorn in the side of mainstream European parties.

Many have acknowledged problems, saying for example that immigrants should learn their host countries’ languages.

But last October the German Chancellor became the first to talk of failure.

“We are a country which at the beginning of the 1960s brought guest workers to Germany,” Angela Merkel told youth members of her CDU party at a meeting in Potsdam. “And now they live with us, and we lied to ourselves for a while, saying that they wouldn’t stay and one day they would be gone. That’s not the reality. Of course, the multicultural approach. that we live here side by side and we’re happy about each other. this approach has failed, utterly failed.”

Such comments, which expose a deep malaise in European society, bring a rebuke from Selçuk Gültaþlý, Brussels correspondent for the conservative Turkish newspaper, Zaman.

“To prevent far right parties from making progress, parties of the centre-right poach their message. Which is very dangerous,” he told euronews.

“As long as centre-right parties continue to poach this message. the ideas, thoughts and reflections — which should really be isolated and marginalised — will gain ground to eventually become ‘normal’ for one and all.

“The debate concerning multiculturalism was launched by Mrs Merkel who said that it had been an utter failure. In the aftermath Sarkozy and Cameron also said the same thing. Obviously when one says that debates on multiculturalism have failed, the group of people who come to mind first and foremost are Muslims,” says Gültaþlý.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Sweden Democrats Reject Norway Attacks Blame

Hellsborn has written on his blog that the twin attacks in Norway are the fault of “mass immigration” and “Islamisation”, denying that he feels any shame for sharing the same views as the perpetrator.

Hellsborn’s party colleagues have however condemned his argument.

“If there hadn’t been any Islamisation or mass immigration then there wouldn’t have been anything to trigger Behring Breivik to do what he did,” wrote Hellsborn, who represents the party in Varberg in western Sweden.

“The ultimate responsibility is with the perpetrator, but if you are to discuss the underlying reasons which motivated him then it was caused by multiculturalism,” Hellsborn explained to the local Hallands Nyheter daily.

Hellsborn furthermore writes that he feels no shame or guilt that he and Anders Behring Breivik share the same nationalist ideology. Those who should feel guilt are those he calls “cosmopolitans” and argues that “in a Norwegian Norway this tragedy would never have happened”.

The political agenda detailed in Anders Behring Breivik’s “manifesto” bears striking similarity to the ideology professed by the Sweden Democrats and when asked if the the party should shoulder some responsibility, Hellsborn replied:

“No, Breivik is a product of the multicultural society. If Europe had not become multicultural then the shootings would not have happened,” he told Hallands Nyheter.

Sweden Democrats party secretary Björn Söder on Tuesday distanced the party from the Hellsborn’s comments.

“The party does not stand behind the analysis. One should be very careful conducting an analysis at this early stage. And that is something we have communicated to Hellsborn,” Söder told news agency TT.

“Of course no one other than the perpetrator has responsibility for what has occurred,” he said.

The party and its rhetoric has had to shoulder the blame in some quarters of the public debate for contributing to the ideological climate which allowed Behring Breivik’s hatred for society turn into violent acts.

While also recognising that it is Behring Breivik who his responsible for his actions and noting that most of the mainstream anti-Muslim movement discounts violence as a legitimate working method, the anti-racist magazine Expo, is one of the groups who share this view.

“It is impossible to disregard the ideological environment where Behring Breivik has structured his views on society if you want to understand the causes behind the terrorist attack in Oslo the 22 of July,” Expo wrote in a statement on Monday.

“This ideological environment is built up around blogs, websites, networks and ideologues. It reaches into the various european populist right winged parties.”

Björn Söder rejected the assertion that Behring Breivik’s terror manifesto echoed the ideas of the Sweden Democrats, its view on Islam for example, which party leader Jimmie Åkesson has identified as “Sweden’s greatest foreign threat”.

“It’s a big mishmash of lots of things that will justify what he has done. It is especially the contempt of democracy and a fetish for violence that pervades the entire manifesto,” Söder said.

“But of course there is criticism of immigration, but there is also freemason mysticism and conservatism and liberalism. You try to pick parts out of context and attack us, and I think this is just as wrong as when Hellsborn says that multiculturalism has created Breivik,” he said.

Sweden Democrat MP Kent Ekeroth also courted controversy on the evening of the attacks when used his twitter to ask: “Anyone care to guess who is behind the bombs in Norway?.

He was warned by party secretary Björn Söder not to speculate before the cause of the attacks was known, but proceeded to write: “No I am not going to call you Islamophobes”.

Press secretary to Jimmie Åkesson, Linus Bylund, was also quick to draw conclusions, tweeting: “The next bastard who gushes about how sad it is for the nice Muslims when bleeding Norwegians are all over the streets will be blocked”.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Prison Expands to Cope With Overcrowding

The notorious Champ-Dollon prison has inaugurated a new wing, built to ease chronic overcrowding among inmates.

The extension at the prison in canton Geneva — Switzerland’s most overcrowded -has space for another 100 inmates, boosting the facility’s total capacity to 370 prisoners.

The extension will only partly address problems with overcrowding. As of Monday the prison was holding 456 people in detention, authorities said.

It will also provide better working conditions for guards, according to prison director Constantin Franziskakis.

A senator representing canton Geneva, Mark Muller praised the speed at which the new wing was built, 18 months after the government gave the go-ahead.

As of September 2010, Switzerland had 6,181 prison inmates, the largest number since 1999. Prisons in the French- and Italian-speaking cantons are at 105 per cent of capacity and the situation continues to worsen, according to the Swiss Statistics office.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]


Kosovo: Vice President of Ruling Party Indicted for War Crimes

Pristina, 26 July (AKI) — A special Kosovo prosecutor has indicted Fatmir Limaj, vice-president of ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo, for crimes against Serb and Albanian civilians during 1998/99 Kosovo war of independence, local media reported on Monday.

Limaj, 40, a member of Kosovo parliament and close associate of Prima Minister Hashim Thaci, has been accused of mistreating and killing Serb civilians and non-loyal Albanians in a detention camp in the village of Klecka in 1999.

Special European Union prosecutor Maurizio Salustro, along with Limaj, indicted nine other former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) that fought for independence from Serbia.

Kosovo majority Albanians declared independence in February 2008, which has been recognized by 77 countries, including the United States and 22 out of 27 European Union members.

The EU has sent to Kosovo a special mission (EULEX) to help local authorities in judiciary, police and customs matters.

Limaj, a wartime KLA military commander, has been indicted by the Hague-based United Nations war crimes tribunal for crimes against civilians in the area of Glogovac in western Kosovo, but was acquitted in 2005 for lack of evidence.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Kosovo: Border Tensions; No EU Approval of Special Forces

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JULY 26 — The European Union “has not approved” the deployment of Kosovo’s special forces to the northern border with Serbia and, revealing it had not been consulted in this regard, relaunched the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue as a platform for dispute resolution between the two states on trade of ‘made in Serbia’ and ‘made in Kosovo’ goods. Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, stated as much today while answering journalists’ questions on the operation carried out last night in Kosovo’s northern border with Serbia, which brought about clashes with the local Serb community.

“We believe the manoeuvre by Kosovo authorities was not helpful and in any case it did not take place following consultations with the international community nor the EU”, she noted. “We do not approve and, instead, wish for the situation to be defused and return to pre-escalation levels”, added Ms Kocijancic, specifying that Eulex (European mission to Kosovo), too, “is ready to assist Kosovo’s authorities”. The spokesperson then recalled the appeal launched last week to the two parties for them to resolve the issue through dialogue. “We believe that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina can yield an adequate solution for free trade in either direction”, she concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Ramadan: Campaign Against Nighttime Swimming

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JULY 27 — The Algerian authorities have issued a warning on the eve of Ramadan over the high number people that die due to drowning (almost 200 since June 1). Many Algerians stay at home during daytime during the holy month, which is dedicated to fasting. After dark they go to the beach, often after a meal. This year, when Ramadan coincides with the month of holidays, the Algerian government has organised an information campaign to explain, particularly to the young, the risks of swimming in total darkness, especially at unguarded beaches.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: The Chaos in Ruling Military Council Helping Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis

Following clashes in Cairo on Sunday that left 298 people injured, the situation appears to be slipping out of control from the military. Ranking officer denies any rumours the Council wants to set up another authoritarian regime. For Fr Greiche, Egypt is in chaos and badly run. Many Christians and Muslims fear the country is sliding towards extremism.

Cairo (AsiaNews) — Ongoing clashes between young supporters of the revolution and security forces are undermining the Egyptian military’s hold over the country as critics from all directions accuse the ruling Supreme Council of failing to manage the situation ahead of next November’s elections.

Yesterday, Major General Mohamed al-Assar, Egypt’s assistant defence minister and a top-ranking member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, met important international figures at a meeting in Washington. He reassured his interlocutors that the Egyptian military was not planning to set up another dictatorship.

According to Fr Greiche, spokesman of the Egyptian Catholic Church, the military is facing internal chaos and is incapable of running the country after the fall of Mubarak.

Clashes between demonstrators and police on Sunday in Abbasseya, in Cairo, left 298 people injured. Pro-democracy groups were outraged; they accuse the police of using knife and stick-wielding thugs to provoke the clashes in order to arrest demonstrators.

For the clergyman, the military is losing control of the situation. “The Supreme Council includes 17 top generals with different opinions and ideas what to do. This is leading to chaos,” he said. This has eroded the military’s credibility.

Meanwhile, the army has accused members of the 6 April Movement of trying to destabilise the country. The latter have countered by blaming soldiers for the violent attacks against demonstrators.

“Residents in downtown Cairo are tired of the never-ending strikes and protests that block the city, with serious consequences for the economy, especially for bars and restaurants, Fr Greiche said. “Residents often call on the police to move against protesters.”

In latest case, the military did nothing to spark the violence, the priest said. They just guarded the Defence Ministry, where the demonstration was taking place. Instead, the police force, which is linked to the old regime, provoked attacks against the demonstrators, by sending in criminals and thugs to create panic and spark clashes.

The situation of insecurity and especially the total lack of credible interlocutors for the government are allowing extremist groups, above all the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, to expand without hindrance, launching their proclamations and threatening opponents of Sharia and an Islamic state.

Indeed, the Board of State Commission on Monday withdrew a cultural award from the Egyptian researcher Sayyid al-Qemny after he was convicted of contempt of religion.

In June 2009, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture had awarded him almost US$ 30,000 for his achievements in social sciences.

However, for the Commission, “The State Merit Award in Social Sciences is granted from taxpayers’ money, not from businessmen, and thus should not be squandered be squandered on renegades from God and his teachings.”

Egypt’s poor are also increasingly afraid of extremists, Fr Greiche said, since the latter now are free to operate as they please. Increasingly, poor people realise what the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis stand for.

Similarly, because of the military’s indifference, discrimination and crime are up, raising the fear level among both Christians and Muslims.” (S.C.)

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Elections: Ennahdha on Track to Power

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 27 — The long electoral season in Tunisia, which will officially start on October 23 with the election of the Constituent Assembly, already has a winner: Ennahdha, the confessional political party led by Rached Gannouchi.

The party will certainly not reach absolute majority on Tunisia’s political stage, which counts more than 10 parties, but it is likely to get the relative majority. Most political forces hope that the current interim government which was appointed, not elected, will step down after October 23.

Therefore Ennahdha is reportedly doing all it can to be well-represented in the government that will have to lead the country to the most important general elections.

The party of Gannouchi is already acting as if it has won the vote, thanks to a very active base of support and careful planning. In fact the party is always ready to take advantage of the great confusion in Tunisia, which is going through a period of ‘political schizophrenia’: the higher social classes are strongly defending the State’s secularity, which they hope is protected by the armed forces, where the lower classes are attracted or seduced by the populism that marks the policies of Ennahdha.

Gannouchi’s party has been increasingly active over the past weeks: Ennahdha took the side of the protesters at the Kasbah, triggering a harsh response from the police; the party stayed on the background when it was expected to condemn the excesses of the young “bearded men”, imbued with Salafite philosophy, intolerance and violence. This group is expanding in Tunisia and seems always ready to scold young people who are dressed in a style that is too Western in their eyes. In fact, the beard is a symbol and some people even grow a beard for other than ideological reasons: some reports say that there are people who pay up to 50 dinars to young men who grow a beard, a clear sign of their religious choice. But Ennahdha also has powerful allies in the country’s mosques. The government has issued a clear warning to imams who make political speeches, particularly during Friday evening prayer, when it looks like all sermons are aimed at collecting votes for Ennahdha. The party also has many local contacts who suggest what should be done. An analyst has written that the political battle is fought on social ground, with poverty forming fertile ground.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Protest Against Al Jazeera Announced

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JULY 27 — A group of civil society associations has announced, for next Saturday, a sit-in to protest against the editorial outlook of Qatari satellite news network Al Jazeera. The protest is against what has been defined as the “manipulation of information”, of which the protesters believe Al Jazeera to be guilty so as to pursue “its interests”.

At a recent pro-”revolution” and democracy protest, an Al Jazeera staff team was harshly criticised and insulted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Jenin Theatre Denounces Israeli Army Raid

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 27 — The direction of the ‘Freedom Theatre’ in the Jenin refugee camp (West Bank) denounces the attack by the Israeli army and reconstructs what happened last night.

“Special forces of the Israeli army attacked the Freedom Theatre around 3.30 am,” a statement reads. “Ahmad Nasser Matahen, the night guard and technician student woke up by heavy blocks of stone being hurled at the entrance of the theatre. As he opened the door he found masked and heavily armed Israeli Special Forces around the theatre.” “They wore masks and told me to put my hands up and lower my pants”, Ahmad told. “I thought my time had come, that they would kill me. My brother who was with me was handcuffed.” Head of logistics Adnan Naghnaghiye was arrested and taken to an unknown location together with Bilal Saadi, member of the Theatre’s ‘board’, the statement continues.

“When we tried to tell them that they are attacking a cultural venue we were told to shut up and they threatened us,” said Jonatan Gough, one of the theatre’s founders, at his arrival at the scene. The Association for Peace and Luisa Morgantini, former President of the European Parliament, who supports the theatre and visited it last week with a delegation, have condemned the attack. “I would like to stress” said Morgantini, “that the refugee camp and the city of Jenin are situated in zone A of the West Bank. So are under control, also military control, of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and the Israeli army should not come there. It is a completely illegal raid that has to be reported.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Social Uprising Continues, Union to Join the Crowd

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JULY 27 — The protest in Israel has not relented: powerful trade union Histadrut gave Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu an ultimatum today. By Saturday night talks with the government must begin, with the participation of the union, to seek a solution for the country’s socio-economic problems. Should that fail to materialise, the Histadrut will take to the streets with the protesters.

The Union of Local Authorities, which comprises all of the municipalities, has also announced that on August 1 it will be holding a general strike in protest against increasing property and housing prices and to defend the middle class, which Union Chairman Shlomo Buchbut believes to be on the brink of disaster.

In a press conference, Histadrut secretary general Ofer Eini launched the following ultimatum: “I expect to receive an invitation from the Prime Minister by Saturday night, addressed to me and all the relevant authorities, for a discussion on an overall solution to market problems, otherwise the Histadrut will take all possible measures available to it”. Eini criticised the switch to a capitalist economy which leaves citizens vulnerable.

“There was once a middle class, which is now disappearing.

An average couple, a working couple with degrees, served in the army and is apparently not earning minimum wages, is struggling to make ends meet now. What’s worse, it has the feeling that there is no hope and when people lose hope there is nothing left to lose”, Eini stated.

Meanwhile, the protest is spreading progressively: dozens of students left the camp they set up weeks ago in downtown Rothschild Boulevard, in the heart of Tel Aviv, to protest in front of government buildings.

In other parts of the country, such as Beersheva, there have been other isolated incidents involving police and violent protesters.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck Show From Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Summit

I recently taped the Stakelbeck on Terror show from the 6th annual Christians United for ISrael (CUFI) Summit in Washington, D.C., featuring keynote speakers Glenn Beck, Pastor John Hagee and much more. Click on the above link to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Caroline Glick: No Prizes for Erdogan

Shortly after Turkey’s Islamist Prime Minister Recip Erdogan came to power in 2002, he began undermining Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. Erdogan officially ended the alliance last May when he sent the IHH, an al Qaeda-aligned, Turkish NGO affiliated with his Islamist AKP Party to lead the pro-Hamas flotilla to Gaza.

Aboard the Mavi Marmara, IHH members violently attacked IDF naval commandos who boarded the ship in order to prevent it from breaking Israel’s lawful maritime blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza coast. In the life and death battle that ensued, nine of the IHH assailants were killed.

By attempting to break Israel’s lawful blockade, passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara and the rest of the ships in the flotilla were engaged in illicit acts of war against the Jewish state and providing illicit aid and comfort to an illegal terrorist organization. In supporting and arguably organizing the flotilla, including the Mavi Marmara, Erdogan himself was waging an unlawful war against Israel…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Crisis in the Relationship Between Erdogan and Europe

Domestic and international factors are behind the Turkish leader’s decision to suspend cooperation with the European Union during the Cypriot presidency. Ankara wants to use its role as a powerful played in an energy-rich region.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) — The long relationship between Erdogan and the European Union is in crisis. The cause is the land of Aphrodite, the island of Cyprus. On a visit last week to mark the 37th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of the northern part of the republic of Cyprus, which led to the division of the country, Erdogan said it would be impossible for Turkey to cooperate with the future presidency of the European Union when it is led by Cyprus.

Even though the Republic of Cyprus is a member of the European Union, it is not recognised by Turkey. The prime minister said he would to suspend relations with the European Union irrespective of what Brussels might think. For him, the European Union was wrong to admit Cyprus. In fact, two states exist on the island that should be joined in a loose confederation that would preserve the identity and independence of each.

The European Union reacted promptly to Erdogan’s statement, calling his remarks offensive and arrogant because they attack the dignity of an EU member state. Sources in Brussels noted that, when Erdogan opened talks with the Union in order for Turkey to become a member, he accepted to respect and recognise the integrity of all EU member states.

Commenting Erdogan’s unfortunate statement, diplomatic sources said the prime minister’s own party, the AKP, was able to rout the old Turkish establishment because of its openness to negotiations with the European Union.

Erdogan’s words touch a number of issues. Whilst what he said is nothing new, they did cause strong reactions.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reminded Foreign Minister Davutoglu that United Nations decisions on Cyprus must be respected.

At the same, many prominent Turkish Cypriot figures have said Erdogan, or whoever is in power in Ankara, does speak on their behalf.

In fact, many Turkish Cypriots, who have become a minority in northern Cyprus because of large-scale immigration from Anatolia, are increasingly expressing their opposition to Ankara.

Restricted to the northern third of the island, they accuse Ankara of being insensitive towards them and their cultural and social heritage, as the island is being turned into a big casino for Islamic banking.

As any observer of Turkish affairs cannot fail to see, Turkish foreign policy has been shaped by a common theme, namely ‘pazarlik’, or deal making.

After the initial impetus, negotiations with the European Union have become bogged down because of reform fatigue (in diplomatic parlance). A lack of civil consciousness in Turkish society has also contributed to the problem. In view of this, Ankara has turned to ‘pazarlik’.

Knowing that the European Union needs energy from a region in which Turkey constitutes a natural point of transit, Ankara is trying to present itself as the main bearer of European values to the nations of that region. At the same time, it is boosting relations with other regional powers like Russia and Iran.

Even though Ankara is trying to meet the Copenhagen criteria, which are crucial for EU membership, it has accused the European Union of applying a double standard at its expense. and Cyprus is the right excuse.

For many analysts, Turkey is looking for new partners outside of Europe. This, at least, is what Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu is saying. As the architect of Turkey’s foreign policy, he has dismissed arguments such as cultural differences or the clash of civilisation, stressing instead different interests.

Domestic factors also play a role. Despite winning half of the popular vote in the last election, Erdogan does not have the necessary majority in parliament to change the constitution outright. For that purpose, he organised a referendum last September (which he had easily won) and called the 12 June elections.

By stroking national price, he hopes to get enough votes in parliament to push through his reforms. He also hopes to set the stage to become the next president once the mandate of President Gul ends. This way he can become the new Father of a nation with an enhanced status as a regional power.

Yet, the first signs of trouble are lurking on the horizon. The International Monetary Fund has in fact reported that Turkey’s trade deficit in the first five months of 2011 topped US$ 38 billion. Concurrently, its growth rate, forecast to be 11 per cent this year, has been revised downward at 8.7. Next year, it should drop even further.

In the end, as the saying goes, if you want to grasp all, you run the risk of losing all.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: In Lebanon: Shiites Take Possession of a Chapel of the Virgin

In Lassa, near Jbeil, Shiites armed with guns prevent cadastral survey on land belonging of the Maronite Church. A meeting at the patriarchate of Bkerke to solve the problem peacefully. Will force triumph over justice?

Beirut (AsiaNews) — For over two week the Maronite Church has been involved in strenuous efforts to reclaim large areas of land which has been taken over by part of the Shiite population of Lassa, a village in the district of Jbeil Mount Lebanon. The affair erupted when official land surveyors tried survey land on which stands a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. Since 2011 the building has been used, against the advice of the Church as a place of worship for women. In spite of all the past efforts to regulate this sensitive and highly symbolic issue the chapel key was never returned to the Church. For several days the population has prevented the team, with the threat of arms, from carrying out the survey.

The conflict has ancient roots, some details date as far back as the nineteenth century. So the Shiites population claims that the Maronite chapel was already a Shiite place of worship. The Maronite Patriarchate, for its part argues that the plot of land was purchased by the Maronite Church in the nineteenth century, as supported by documents such as title deeds and cadastral surveys dating to 1939. These are the facts that the Church seeks to confirm today, once and for all, with the help of the Lebanese state.

The use of threats by the Shiite population of Lassa has awakened feelings of confessional hostility in Maronite environments. Nurtured by certain personalities this anger has begun to manifest itself. To avoid exacerbating these feelings the patriarchate of Bkerke called a meeting involving all parties concerned, including representatives of Hezbollah and the Amal Shiite movement. The patriarch chaired the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the police and army. Closing the meeting, and confirming his original direction, the Patriarchate has appointed a commission to resolve the legal problem, expressing the desire to confine the issue to a strictly legal framework and avoid any political and confessional drift.

Legal documents show that the land belongs to the Maronite Church in the village where a Shiite majority and a Maronite minority coexist in about 3.6 million square meters, divided into 95 plots. The plots were registered in 1939. Over 80 cases of trespassing on land belonging to the Maronite Church have been registered, in the form of illegal construction or unauthorised agricultural use. Most buildings were built at the beginning of this century, thanks to the mayor’s illegal authorization of the village and with the passive complicity of the local police, responsible for repressing violations of construction law.

Moreover, not content with occupying the Church land illegally, the Shiite population prevents the development of Christian farmers on their own uncontested agricultural land. To the point that one of them was beaten and kicked off the land that he had rented. The lawyers of the Patriarchate, who are in direct contact with a Hezbollah official, Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, ensure that this party does not give political cover to the families illegally occupying the property of the Maronite Church, and that an attitude of firmness is required by all so that justice is done.

At present this is the situation. The cadastral surveys have been suspended, waiting, as usual, for the political forces to take the necessary steps, within the village, in favour of a compromise. But what compromise are they speaking about? Will force eventually win over justice? The antagonistic political forces spy on each other, they watch each other, while the fire smoulders beneath.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

NATO Warns Turkey Against Buying Chinese, Russian Air Defense Systems

NATO may avoid sharing ballistic missiles intelligence with Turkey if the nation decides to buy Chinese or Russian systems for its missile defense program

A strategic missile Topol-M makes an impressive entry into Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2011. The Western alliance is encouraging Turkey not to choose Chinese or Russian tenders in an upcoming air defense bid.

Ankara would have to operate without NATO’s intelligence information on incoming ballistic missiles if it chooses to buy Chinese or Russian systems for its national air and missile defense program, officials of the Western alliance have warned Turkey.

Participating in the ongoing competition to win Turkey’s national air and missile contract are the U.S. partnership between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, with their Patriot air defense systems; Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S300; China’s CPMIEC (China Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp.), offering its HQ-9; and the Italian-French Eurosam, maker of the SAMP/T Aster 30. Turkey is planning to make its selection late this year or early next year.

Many Western officials and experts say that since the Russian and the Chinese systems are not compatible with NATO systems, their potential eventual victory might provide them with access to classified NATO information, and as a result may compromise NATO’s procedures.

But despite this criticism, Turkey so far has ruled against expelling the Chinese and Russian options, saying there is no need to exclude them from the Turkish competition.

One Western expert countered that “if, say, the Chinese win the competition, their systems will be in interaction, directly or indirectly, with NATO’s intelligence systems, and this may lead to the leak of critical NATO information to the Chinese, albeit inadvertently. So this is dangerous.”

“NATO won’t let that happen,” another Western official told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday. “If the Chinese or the Russians win the Turkish contest, their systems will have to work separately. They won’t be linked to NATO information systems.”

This was the first time NATO has strongly urged Turkey against choosing the non-Western systems.

“One explanation is that Turkey itself doesn’t plan to [ultimately] select the Chinese or Russian alternatives, but still is retaining them among their options to put pressure on the Americans and the Europeans to [lower] their prices,” the Western expert said.

Turkey’s long-range air and missile defense systems program (T-Loramids) has been designed to counter both enemy aircraft and missiles.

Turkey’s national program is totally separate and independent from NATO’s own plans to design, develop and build its own collective missile shield.

The Western alliance decided during a leaders’ summit meeting in Lisbon in November last year to create the collective missile shield against potential incoming ballistic missiles from rogue countries. Ankara agreed to the decision only after the alliance accepted a Turkish request that Iran or other countries would not be specifically mentioned as potential sources of threats.

NATO now is seeking to deploy a special X-band radar in Turkish territory for the early detection of missiles launched from the region.

Senior U.S. and Turkish officials discussed the matter in mid-July in Istanbul on the sidelines of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and both sides reported progress toward an eventual deployment of the X-band radar on Turkish soil.

Ideally, in the event of a launch of a ballistic missile from a rogue state, it would be detected by the X-band radar, and U.S.-made SM-3 interceptors — based on U.S. Aegis destroyers to be deployed in the eastern Mediterranean and later possibly in Romania — would then be fired to hit the incoming missile mid-flight.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Indonesia: Remains of ‘Tortured Migrant Worker’ To Arrive in Jakarta

Jakarta, 27 July (AKI) -Migrant Care, an Indonesian migrant worker advocacy organisation, said Wednesday that the remains of tortured Indonesian migrant worker Ernawati would be arriving in Jakarta from Saudi Arabia on Friday.

Ernawati died in Saudi Arabia on 10 February.

Migrant Care coordinator Nur Harsono said his organization and the family of Ernawati would pick up Ernawati’s body, reported.

Ernawati’s family has reported to the Foreign Ministry that Erna was frequently tortured by her employer.

The last time Ernawati had spoken to her family was on 1 February

Indonesia in June imposed a moratorium on the export of labor to Saudi Arabia after an Indonesian migrant worker, Ruyati binti Satubi, was executed by Saudi authorities after she was convicted of murdering her Saudi employer.

The Indonesian government said the moratorium would come into effect on 1August and remain in place until the Saudi government agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding to protect the rights of Indonesian workers.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Far East

Nuclear Power: IAEA: Due to Increase Despite Fukushima

(ANSAmed) — TOKYO, JULY 26 — Electricity production from nuclear power stations is due to rise on a global level, despite the Fukushima disaster which saw the worst nuclear incident since Cernobyl.

This is the prediction made by Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as voiced at the end of a meeting held with Japan’s premier, Naoto Kan.

“It is certain that the number of nuclear reactors will grow, although at a slower pace than previously,” Mr Amano noted. He was speaking on the day after his inspection of the power station wrecked by the March 11 tidal wave.

“Some countries, including Germany, have changed their own nuclear policies, but many believe there is a need for reactors in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are behind global warming,” the head of the UN agency added. For Mr Amano, “the main thing is to guarantee plant safety”.

During his stay in Japan, Mr Amano will attend the annual UN meeting on nuclear disarmament, which is due to take place in Matsumoto tomorrow, a city in the Nagano prefecture.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Pirates Face Jail Terms of Up to 10 Years

Five Somali nationals who are on trial in the Netherlands for piracy in the Gulf of Aden should be jailed for between seven and 10 years, the public prosecution department said on Wednesday.

The five took over a South African yacht and held three people hostage last November. One was rescued but the other two, a couple from Durban, are still missing. Associates of the pirates who were arrested have demanded a multi-million euro ransom for their release.

The trial is taking place in the Netherlands because the pirates were picked up by a Dutch navy vessel. Of the 20 suspects who were arrested, 15 were later freed.

According to Nos radio, South Africa refused to cooperate with Dutch demands that it take over the prosecution.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Audiencia to Investigate Genocide of Maya Women

(ANSAmed) — Madrid, JULY 26 — Madrid’s Audiencia Nacional will investigate the gender murders committed by officers of the State of Guatemala between 1979 and 1986. The victims of the murders were mainly women of the Maya ethnic group. The report was made by justice sources quoted by the El Mundo website. The magistrate of the preliminary investigation section 1 of the high court, Santiago Pedraz, authorised proceedings following an appeal filed by the ‘Women’s Link Worldwide’ association in the case opened in 1999 over alleged crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in the ‘80s in Guatemala that involves as defendants various former high ranking military officers, including coup d’état general José Efrein Rios.

According to the court order issued by the magistrate, there are “multiple documents, witness accounts and expert’s reports” that support the reports submitted by lawyers Patricia Sellers and Eugenia Solis, who are expert in cases of ‘feminicide’, the name given to gender violence that occurred during the armed conflict in Guatemala. Pedraz explained that between 1979 and 1986 the Maya women of Guatemala were subjected by members of the army to “specific forms of persecution and violence, especially of sexual nature”. Trial documents include witness accounts of 1,465 rapes against women, 97% of which were carried out by the military, while 88.7% of the victims belonged to the Maya group.

According to the court measure, 62% of the women subjected to sexual violence were from 18 to 60 years old, 35% from 0 to 17 years old, and 3% were elderly. Many of them were subjected to “mass violence and sexual slavery”, aggravated by the “extreme cruelty of the attacks”, with mutilations and feticides after their bellies were torn open. According to the preliminary investigation judge, such violence had the purpose of “demonstrating and wielding power as part of a strategy of terror” and to ensure “the end of the transmission of the Maya culture and the disappearance of the group”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Irregular Immigrants May Marry Italian Citizens

(AGI) Rome — Irregular immigrants may marry an Italian citizen, according to a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court declaring article 116 of Italian Civil Code partially illegitimate. The case was raised in the Catania Court by a Moroccon citizen who had been denied the right to marry because “he did not have a regular residence permit” .

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Italy: Journalists Against Ban on CIE Access

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 25 — The right to shine the spotlight on Italy’s Identification and Deportation Centres(CIE) and Accommodation Centres for Asylum Seekers (CARA) is the right demanded by demonstrators during a day of mobilisation called “Let Us Enter” (LasciateCIEntrare, in Italian). Today, Italian and foreign journalists, MPs from several political parties, regional officials, union representatives, civil society associations and activists gathered in front of centres for immigrants and refugees all over Italy. The initiative — promoted by a committee including the FNSI union, the Order of Journalists, Art. 21, ASGI, Primo Marzo, the Open Society Foundation, European Alternatives, as well as MPs including Jean Leonard Touadi, Rosa Villecco Calipari, Savino Pezzotta, Livia Turco, Fabio Granata, Giuseppe Giulietti, Furio Colombo, and Francesco Pardi — seeks to express disapproval over a ban established by a circular letter issued by the Ministry of the Interior in April denying reporters the chance to enter these centres. The demonstration was held in Rome, Bologna, Modena, Gradisca, Turin, Milan, Bari, Cagliari, Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Trapani, Catania, Lampedusa and Porto Empedocle. The CIEs and CARAs “have been off limits to the press for some time,” explained the committee promoting the event, “they are places that are prohibited to civil society and in which only some humanitarian organisations that have been chosen arbitrarily are allowed to entre”. “Circular no. 1305 from the Interior Minister issued on April 1 2011,” denounced the committee, “made these places even more inaccessible until a date to be named later due to the North Africa emergency.” The circular calls journalists, representatives from Italian and international anti-racism and humanitarian associations present in the country where the CIEs and CARAs are located, ‘a hindrance’ to the operation of the agencies managing the centres and bars them from entering for this reason. This essentially translates into a suspension of the right/duty to provide information regarding these places, which comes in addition to the many violations that have already been identified in these centres.” “Fear of letting people know about what happens inside of the centres fuels doubts.We believe that it is an issue of civilisation to extinguish these doubts,” said Franco Siddi, the leader of journalists’ union FNSI.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Reprieve for Afghan Tajik Family

An Afghan Tajik family including a nine-year-old child who was born in the Netherlands has been given temporary permission to stay in the country by immigration minister Gerd Leers.

The reprieve is conditional on the Qadiri family working to build up a new future in either Afghanistan or Tajikistan, where the mother comes from, Leers said. The compromise was worked out together with officials in the north eastern area of Coevorden, where the family currently lives.

Coevorden’s mayor had earlier ordered the local police force not to cooperate with efforts to deport the family. His position was supported by the entire local council, who oppose the deportation on humanitarian grounds.

The family says it cannot return to Afghanistan because the mother is a Christian from Tajikistan and is not welcome there. The Afghan father, in turn, is not allowed to enter Tajikistan.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

Spain: Emigration Rises With Crisis

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JULY 25 — Spain’s population is falling for the first time in the country’s recent history. Since the beginning of 2011, the economic crisis means that there has been greater emigration than immigration, according to figures circulated by Spain’s national institute of statistics (INE). The country’s population has dropped by 27,771 since January, from 46,152,925 to the 46,125,154 recorded in July.

The demographic crisis is not only the result of a fall in births (though there were 42,988 more births than deaths between January and July) but also of a rise in emigration. Since January, some 295,141 people have left the country while 224,382 have arrived. The migratory difference is of 70,759 people, of whom 63,162 are foreigners.

Immigration, which is responsible for demographic growth and for around 20% of births, has turned into emigration, as 90% of people moving abroad are foreign residents. Spaniards themselves emigrate, albeit to a lesser extent. Since the start of 2011, 29,100 have left the country, 23% more than over the corresponding period of 2010.

The balance was also down in terms of Spanish negatives, as there were 7,597 more departures than returns to the country. Sociologically, the INE sees the figures as a “brain drain”, as a large proportion of those who have left the country are young people who are highly educated and very highly skilled workers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Brussels Studies Labour Market Stop for Romanians

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JULY 25 — Brussels received a letter from Spain on Friday evening in which Madrid announces it will restrict its labour market for Romanians. The document is now under examination by the European Commission, which has to verify if an exception to the rules can be made in this case.

This was explained today in Brussels by Chantal Hughes, spokesperson of the European Commission, who answered questions from the press. “It is the first time we receive such request,” said Hughes, “and we must study the figures well.” In order to get green light from the European Commission, Spain must in fact show the “large impact, with data and figures” Romanians make on the country’s labour market, posing an exceptional threat. The spokesperson added that in the second stage of liberalisation of movement for Bulgarians and Romanians, “once the labour market is opened, the only way to close the doors again is to use the so-called safeguard clause.” Spain, which could introduce the halt to free movement of Romanian workers on August 1, does not even have to wait for the approval from Brussels. “There are two ways to restrict access,” Hughes specified: “ask the European Commission for permission or carry out the move unilaterally, in case of emergency, and informing the European Commission as soon as possible.” In any case, Romanians and Bulgarians will have free access to the EU labour market as of 2013, as stated in the accession treaties of the two countries.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Rightwing Puts Immigration on Election Agenda

The rightwing Swiss People’s Party is seeking to re-introduce annual quotas for immigration and to renegotiate a key labour accord with the European Union.

The launch of the party’s initiative, which comes less than three months ahead of October’s parliamentary elections, has prompted unanimous opposition from other political parties and the business community.

Proponents have 18 months to collect the necessary signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue. It is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at restricting immigration to Switzerland.

“Our initiative wants to re-claim Switzerland’s autonomy on immigration,” People’s Party President Toni Brunner told a news conference on Monday.

He says Switzerland signed away the right to a sovereign immigration policy after agreeing the free movement of people accord with Brussels in 2002.

“Unlimited immigration, including problems with illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, has a negative impact on the economy, rents, the price of land, infrastructure, schools, unemployment, health and social security,” Brunner said.

However, Brunner stressed the initiative was not aimed at stopping immigration as Switzerland’s economy needed foreign labour.

He said the initiative did not mention precise figures so as to leave the necessary flexibility for the labour market…

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

UK: Requiring Immigrants to Speak English ‘Breaches Human Rights, ‘ Claims Couple as They Launch Legal Bid to Overturn Ruling

A new immigration rule requiring people to be able to speak English to move to the UK to be with their spouse is a breach of human rights, a court heard today.

A couple have launched a judicial review at the High Court to challenge the rule, which they claim contravenes their rights to a family life, their right to marry and constitutes discrimination.

British citizen Rashida Chapti, 54, and husband Vali Chapti, 57, are applying for him to join her in the UK.

The couple have been married for 37 years and have six children together. Mr Chapti is an Indian national and does not speak, read or write English.

Mrs Chapti has reportedly been travelling between India and Leicester for around 15 years but has now applied for her husband to come and live in the UK with her.

But under new immigration rules announced by Home Secretary Theresa May in June 2010, he cannot do so due to a new English language requirement for migrants applying to come or stay in the UK as a spouse.

The rule, which came into force in November last year, is thought to be part of the Government’s pledge to reduce net migration.

But the Chaptis, along with two other couples, have launched proceedings to contest it.

At the High Court sitting in Birmingham, Manjit Gill QC, representing the couple, told the court the requirement was a breach of their human rights.

He said it contravenes several Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights — Article 8, the right to family life, Article 12, the right to marry, and Article 14, to be free of discrimination.

Mr Gill said: ‘The rule is particularly striking in that it prevents mere residence even though one of the parties is fully entitled to live in this country.’

He said the rule discriminated against people on the grounds of nationality and ‘race discrimination’.

He went on: ‘There may be reasons, where the Secretary of State is concerned, that for those who are already here, before he allows them to gain a benefit such as indefinite leave to remain, or citizenship, that he is entitled to ask that they show some understanding of the language and some knowledge of life in the UK so that at that stage integration is assisted.

‘It may be that the Secretary of State is able to show at that point that such a requirement is proportionate interference with the rights in question.’

But he said the measure prevented people who are British citizens and settled in the country from living with their partners, adding: ‘That vice is compounded by the fact that the measure does this on grounds which are blatantly, admittedly, racially discriminatory.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Italy: Priests Blackmailed for Gay Affairs

Police make two arrests

(ANSA) — Potenza, July 26 — Italian police arrested two men accused of blackmailing priests by keeping their homosexual affairs secret in exchange for thousands of euros Tuesday.

According to police, two men extorted money from at least a dozen priests in the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Molise, Puglia and Sicily.

Authorities began their investigation three months ago when one of the priests reported the suspects who allegedly made their threats by telephone from the southern town of Maratea.

Officials visited the homes of the priests in question Tuesday to acquire further information.

None of the priests are charged with a crime.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Malta: Valleta to Allow Divorce From October

The Times of Malta, 26 July 2011

“Historic vote ushers in divorce,” announces The Times of Malta. On 25 July, the Maltese parliament passed a law authorising divorce and remarriage. MPs voted by 52 votes to 11 with three abstentions to approve a bill that will come into force in October. The change to the country’s legislation is the final step in process that has overcome significant opposition — Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi voted against the bill which was supported by only three members of his cabinet. The vote takes into account the result of a referendum earlier this year. On 28 May, 53% of the country’s electorate cast their ballots in favour of the legalisation of divorce. Along with the Philippines, Malta was one of two countries in the world where divorce remained illegal.

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]

No Comment From EU on Italian Homophobia Vote

(AGI) Brussels — EU spokesman Matthew Newman says the EU regards homophobia as a “serious issue.” Mr Newman was responding to a request for a comment on yesterday’s vote in which the Lower House threw out proposals in the matter of homophobia. He also recalled the fact that Vice President Viviane Reding has on several occasions spoken out against homophobia, but that the European Union “does not comment on national parliamentary legislative decisions.” ..

           — Hat tip: C. Cantoni[Return to headlines]